Book Review #5: The Historian

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I love a good Gothic novel. Ever since reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in college I have loved the writing style and the eerie feel to the descriptions used in these books. The Historian is such a novel. Written by Elizabeth Kostova in 2005, I finally got around to reading this book that had been sitting on my shelf for two years.

Blurb on the Back:

The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe – in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

As you can see, it’s about the search for Dracula. Well, its a search for the truth that leads to the search for Dracula, er go, I had to read this book!

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What more can be said about The Historian?

Well, it starts off with a teenage girl who has a very close relationship with her father. However, he keeps secrets and goes away on a lot of secret trips. Then he disappears. This prompts the young woman to go searching for him. Through a series of letters, she finds out more about her father, mother and her father’s mentor – who is the reason this search began in the first place.

There are many stories being told within the main story but the main story actually has four stories in one. Try saying that five times fast, ha ha! The young woman, her father, mother, and her father’s mentor. They are all historians in search for the truth.

The mentor, Professor Rossi, starts the adventure through basic historical curiosity that leads him down a dark path. He disappears. There is a book left for the father, Paul. He follows the bread crumbs which lead him to meeting his future wife and mother to the young woman. Together, they go looking for the professor, traveling around most of Europe and down the rabbit hole of evil.

My take on The Historian:

While I generally enjoyed the book, there are some things I didn’t enjoy about it. The story itself is amazing. I felt like I was reading a tamer version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The writing however, reminded me a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (a book that is mentioned a few times). It was kind of dry in certain parts. There were too many descriptions. Even the various monasteries described in the book were too long and I often found myself getting distracted by the descriptions that I forgot where I was in the context of the story.

Describing a great scene is pivotal to storytelling in my opinion but too much description takes away from the story and I found my mind wandering several times throughout the book. Telling a story within a story is challenging.

I have been writing a story about four vampire siblings for ten years now and am still struggling with telling the stories without boring the reader. So, I like that Elizabeth did this. What I didn’t like though was in the first part of the book, the stories are swapped so much that again, I found it difficult to follow at times. This may be a hard read for some.

The writer puts a lot of real life historical facts into the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I learned more about the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria then I ever thought I would even like to. The Historian was more than entertainment for me. It was learning.

She also did this with Vlad the Impaler. I know a lot about the man but a lot of the history of who he really was and his achievements (and atrocities) are still a mystery to this day. So I really enjoyed learning more.

Dracula is a character who everyone loves to write about because he was a real person. Kind of like Robin Hood. At one point in history a real Robin Hood existed yet the legend has been told differently throughout the ages. He has become more fiction than fact. The same is said of Dracula and people love to write about the legend.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book. I have made it a point to make reading a part of my bedtime routine so that I can get more reading in. I am looking forward to writing about the different books I plan to read in the coming year.

I hope you enjoyed my book review on The Historian!

Thanks so much for reading!

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29 thoughts on “Book Review #5: The Historian

  1. I read this a few years ago and like you really loved the story and the history but there was definitely too much description and jumping around in places. That said, you’ve made we want to go back and read it again.
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky x

    1. I’m glad I found a fellow lover of this book. It can be hard to get through and definitely isn’t the fast and easy read that we moms usually only have time for but I think the way the story plays out is worth the read. Thanks so much for your thoughts:)

    1. Oh Thank you! I just have to find time to finish it and finish another vampire book that I am writing. I think I overwhelmed myself starting multiple writing projects at the same time lol. But as soon as it’s finished, I will definitely let you know:)

    1. It is hard to find the time to read these days but I have found that if I set at least 30 minutes aside each night as part of my bedtime routine I am able to get more reading in. Now if I can schedule more writing in, I’d be golden;)

  2. My own (of course not published lol) has two characters that I swap between and I agree it can be hard to write it without confusing the reader. I imagine with 4 that would be harder. I agree I like description and it is necessary, but when it drags on it can be boring. Great review though!!! Thanks for linking up #mg

    1. I’m so glad you read it Mac! Yeah, having four main characters that I have to swap between is hard to do. I read a book in college called “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” and she did a great job of swapping between the characters. I didn’t keep the book though but I should have just to use as a guide. I will figure it out though:)

    1. Oh I’m so glad! I hope you get to read it and I hope you enjoy it. It’s a great story that is worth reading through all the descriptive language:)

  3. I think this kind of horror fiction is enjoying a lot of popularity at the moment. I would be frustrated like you if the descriptive passages dragged on for too long.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing this on the big screen myself because it is original in the way that it is old school and not like the horror movies that are made today with no originality. The story is very original too and I love that. Thanks so much for stopping by:)

    1. Oh I know all about those time management skills. I am still trying to find time to fit in my own writing of my stories as well as a few other projects I’ve been wanting to complete. Thanks so much for reading!

  4. Gothic books are not for me but you describe this book very well. Good luck with writing your book, I am sure it will be great. Just try to be as natural as you can and find your own voice.

    1. Thank you for your lovely and supportive comment! I haven’t given up on my writing. I’m just a perfectionist with it who is always questioning myself but I am working on it:)

    1. I do too. I just started another historical fiction novel that I plan to write a review on at the end of February. The history just fascinates me!

  5. This sounds like an interesting read. I’m more into self-help books right now, but I do like a good horror/thriller from time to time. I totally agree with you about stories over-describing and the feeling of your mind wandering whilst reading- that’s quite annoying! That would definitely put me off a book.
    Victoria recently posted…JANUARY’S DETOX & CLEANSE JOURNEYMy Profile

    1. The over describing did make it hard to concentrate at times but I really wanted to know what happened to all of the characters so I kept reading. The characters kept me hooked:)

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